Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Siluriformes

Family: Clariidae

Genus: Clarias

Species: C. batrachus

Physical Description

The walking catfish has an elongated body shape, and reaches almost 0.5 m in length and 1.2 kg in weight. Often covered laterally in small white spots, the body is mainly coloured a gray or grayish brown. This catfish has long-based dorsal and anal fins, as well as several pairs of sensory barbels on the anterior end of the body. The skin is scaleless, but covered with mucus, which protects the fish when it is out of water. It have a sting or thorn-like defensive present behind the fins (including the middle ones before the tail fin, like the majority of all catfishes).


In the wild, this creature is omnivorous, it feeds on smaller fish, molluscs, and other invertebrates, as well as detritus and aquatic weeds. It is a voracious eater which consumes food rapidly, so it is particularly harmful when invasive. It is named for its ability to “walk” across dry land, to find food or suitable environments. While it does not truly walk as most bipeds or quadrupeds do, it has the ability to use its pectoral fins to keep it upright as it makes a wiggling motion with snakelike movements. This fish normally lives in slow-moving and often stagnant waters in ponds, swamps, streams and rivers, flooded rice paddies or temporary pools which may dry up. When this happens, its “walking” skill allows the fish to move to other sources of water. Considerable taxonomic confusion surrounds this species and it has frequently been confused with other close relatives.

Habitat and Distribution

Walking catfish thrive in stagnant, frequently hypoxic waters,  and are often found in muddy ponds, canals, ditches and similar habitats. The species spends most of its time on, or right above, the bottom, with occasional trips to the surface to gulp air. The walking catfish is a tropical species native to Southeast Asia. The native range of true Clarias batrachus is only confirmed from the Indonesian island of Java, but three closely related and more widespread species have frequently been confused with this species. These are C. magur of northeast India and Bangladesh, a likely undescribed species from Indochina, and another likely undescribed species from the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo